USC broke camp Wednesday night with no major parts broken.
While SEC East rivals Georgia and Florida both had at least one key player go down with a serious injury in preseason drills, the Gamecocks escaped mostly unscathed.
That’s no coincidence.
Steve Spurrier has never liked his teams to do much hitting in August, preferring to save his players’ knee ligaments, collarbones and ribcages for when the games actually count. Linebacker Dustin Lindsey suggested this month that Spurrier is an offensive guy who protects his quarterbacks and receivers – a sentiment that prompted Spurrier to put a muzzle on Lindsey, who has not been made available to reporters since.
And while it’s true that Spurrier has a hands-off rule for his QBs in practice and instructs defensive backs not to go for the kill shot if a receiver has his ribs exposed, the HBC is mindful of the welfare of all his players.
“I read all these other schools, they’ve had a lot of injuries. They maybe do a little bit more full-speed hitting,” Spurrier said Wednesday. “We scrimmage, but we encourage our players to take care of their teammates. I’ve always believed in that.”
Spurrier’s approach to two-a-days seems sensible enough. But cynics might question whether it leads to complacency in the trenches and fails to adequately prepare the Gamecocks’ offensive and defensive linemen for the speed and physicality of the games.
USC’s offensive lines under Spurrier generally have not played their best until the latter stages of the season.
But Spurrier isn’t buying that argument.
“Some coaches believe you ought to knock the crap out of your teammates or you’ll get in bad habits when the games start. I don’t believe that,” he said. “I believe we’re all on the same team. We’ve got to protect each other and realize we’re practicing for the opponent. I’ve always said when an Army practices for the enemy, they don’t use live bullets in practice.”
Gamecocks defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson tends to agree: “You can’t hit everyday, all day, in two-a-days. You just can’t do it.”